Snooker: Taylor, the comeback marvel of '85, to retire

DENNIS TAYLOR, whose comeback to win the 1985 Embassy World Championship remains one of sport's best remembered moments, says he is to retire from competition at the end of the season.

The 49-year-old from Northern Ireland arrived at his decision this week after losing his opening two matches in the pro-circuit's qualifying school in Plymouth. Taylor, beaten 5-2 by Stephen O'Conner in the European Open preliminaries, said: "After that I started thinking to myself what am I doing here.

"I'm just not enjoying the game anymore and I've always said that when that happens I'll call it a day. I will carry on until the end of the season and the aim is to go out at the World Championship in Sheffield.

"I haven't been back there to play for three years and it would be nice to finish my career at the Crucible where I have my greatest memory."

Taylor, who turned professional in 1971 before the game's rise in popularity, made his breakthrough into the winner's circle by triumphing at the inaugural grand prix in 1984.

However, he will for ever be associated with his match against Steve Davis in the following year's world final. Trailing 8-0, Taylor appeared to be heading towards a heavy defeat but he clawed his way back into contention and, at 12.19am in front of a record 18.5m BBC2 viewers, he sank the black in the deciding frame to win 18-17.

Taylor added: "People still ask me about the final black and the finger- wagging. I don't think a day goes by when it doesn't crop up in conversation with somebody. I hope it continues for a long time."

Stephen Hendry, six times a world champion, said: "Dennis is a great character. When he leaves the competitive scene it will be a big loss for the game."

Taylor, a member of snooker's elite top 16 for 18 consecutive seasons from 1976 onwards, is seventh on the all-time prize-money list with pounds 1,485,892 and has won 14 tournaments world-wide, including the 1987 Benson and Hedges Masters.

In recent years, though, Taylor has found winning form progressively more difficult to achieve. He has lost his last eight matches in pro-events and last season slipped from 34th to 52nd in the world rankings.

Taylor, the oldest player among the top 100, said: "I have a fairly full diary away from the table and it costs me money to set days aside to play in the qualifiers."

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